Bottom’s Dream, lovingly adapted from The Mechanicals’ subplot within Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is the 9th charity pantomime to be held at The Bent Brief by the Forty Pound Theatre Company. In the heart of Southampton’s Common very close to the Cowherds, Nick Bottom and his merry band of players rehearse the play they will be performing: The Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbee. As the actors rehearse, the knavish trickster Puck, Servant of Titania Queen of the Fairies, uses Bottom as part of a prank he plays upon his Queen. The tomfoolery which ensues can only be put down to a dream – Bottom’s Dream. The cast comprises lecturers, students and Southampton-ites alike with a professional mime artist taking up the role of Puck.
Under the direction of the university’s own Dr Julie Campbell the group are forced to beg, borrow and steal to put on their show as they work without a budget and donate every penny of the profits to their chosen charity of the year. This year’s charity, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, is seen by the group as a particularly worthy cause in light of the recent cuts in government funding for the organisation at a time when their help and advice stand to be needed more than ever by the British public. It would be a definite mistake to assume that the production suffers from its lack of capital – the set is simple but ingenious benefiting greatly from the intimate nature of the venue and costumes are hilariously imaginative.
The tight-knit cast all gave excellent performances and as an audience member I found myself laughing at the performance often. Bottom’s dream has an infectious warmth about it – audience reactions were not forced but rather the genuine product of a hilarious and well directed panto with all of the usual opportunities for audience involvement. Special mention must go to Ross Johnson whose tottering performance of fairy queen Titania had the entire audience in stitches particularly in one of the more sexual scenes.
This Pantomime embodies Christmas – giving, fun, laughter and the opportunity for a little alcoholic merriment. Highly recommended.
Bottom’s Dream is running at The Bent Brief, Lodge Road, Portswood at 19.15 daily until Saturday 17th December. All proceeds go to Totton Citizens’ Advice Bureau and tickets can be bought by emailing Dr Julie Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free live music follows each performance.